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The Greek word for evangelists is Euaggelistes meaning 'one who brings good news'. Evangelism is something all Christians are called to be and to do, but it seems there are some amongst us who have been given an extra gifting in this area. The Hope We Have conference provided a chance for those ‘extra gifted’ evangelists to gather and learn from Karina Kreminski, Mike Frost and other speakers over three days.
As the theme hinted, the message of hope was the clear takeaway from this conference. Evangelists can often feel ‘disillusioned’ with their desire to share the Gospel. It can be a fine line between building authentic relationships and just getting people to church.
Both Mike and Karina’s research and experiences demonstrate how authentic evangelism is possible in the Australian context.
Here are five ways we can practice evangelism:
Love your neighbour - Karina Kreminski talks about this as ‘the art of neighbouring’. Jesus gave everyone a practical plan to live life “love your neighbour as yourself”. This means knowing someone’s name – humanising and seeing people in what can be a dehumanising world. Discovering your neighbour’s names, building genuine friendships, practicing stick-ability – show people you are around for the long haul.
Self-sacrifice – Allowing yourself to receive from others, this often means relinquishing power and control in order to relate to people authentically. Self-sacrifice involves having conversations in order to build relationships with those you would not normally converse with. For Jesus, this was dining with prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. Non-Christians can be buffered and resistant to hearing the Gospel. It is possible to counter that sense of being buffered by creating space that is safe so people feel comfortable with discussing deeper issues. Find out what people are craving, help people develop the longings within them. The longings that are the real stuff of being human. Things like: gratitude, joy, kindness, forgiveness.
Don’t stereotype those who don’t love God as sinners – People are yearning for affirmation, not the opposite. People don’t want to be told how sinful they are or how ‘not good enough they are’. . Yearning to be valued…taken seriously as a person, a precious subject of personal love, not as an impersonal object of mere ‘evangelisation.’ When people come to Christ the first thing they notice is the beauty and kindness of God. It is in the face of such beauty and kindness that sin can then be seen for what it really is, and real change happens as a result – not from guilt but from grace.
Bless others – Mike Frost gathers with a group of Jesus followers in Manly, Sydney each week. They call themselves ‘Small Boat, Big Sea’. One of their weekly actions is to bless 3 people each week and to eat with 3 people each week. Mike says these actions of generosity exemplify good community and spark a cycle of giving and generosity by the receiver which is also deeply and progressively transformative to the giver.
Look for the overlap – Mike encourages 3Story evangelism. 3Story is made up of ‘My Story’, ‘Your Story’ and ‘God’s Story’. My Story is how God has transformed us. That is, how is God shaping and transforming our lives. Your Story involves active listening. Listening to the stories of others and pointing out how there is a mutuality and respect between My Story, Your Story and God’s Story that can be accentuated. God’s Story refers to what God is doing in the world. The overlap refers to the space in the middle of the three stories. How does God’s Story shape Your Story after hearing My Story? More on 3Story can be downloaded here.
Karina Kreminski is releasing a book in late October, titled "Urban Spirituality: Embodying God's Mission in the Neighbourhood". She also has a blog online here. Mike Frost has written several books and also has a website and blog, which can be viewed here.
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